Bishop Michael Ingham declared to Diocesan Synod that he has seen a strengthening of purpose and resolve within the Diocese of New Westminster, despite the highly-publicized disputes over same sex blessings during the past decade.

“Ten years ago in 1998 this Synod took the first of its decisions to support the blessing of permanent, faithful relationships between persons of the same sex. In the last decade events have unfolded both here and around the world that have propelled us all into extraordinary sacrifices and discoveries,” he told about 100 clergy and 200 lay synod members gathered for their annual meeting at Capilano University, North Vancouver, May 30 and 31.


Bishop Michael Ingham
After the initial vote and a diocesan-wide period of study, the New Westminster synod voted in 2001 and again in 2002 to ask the bishop to prepare a rite of blessing. Bishop Ingham complied and released the blessing for use in 2003.

The decision was met with substantial opposition. Some clergy and lay delegates walked out of the 2002 synod. 

The bishop recalled that at that time the diocese lost "almost overnight" about 18% of diocesan income. The loss forced the diocese to  cut programs and ministries such as hospital chaplains and church-to-church mission support to partners throughout the world, he said. 

“The real victims in this battle were the innocent - bed-ridden patients in city hospitals, missionaries and theological schools in developing countries, and rural and isolated congregations in northern Canada,” he said.

But since the walkout, said Bishop Ingham, “We have replaced the money we lost, through the generous giving of committed Anglicans. We have restored one of our two hospital chaplaincies.”

“We have a wonderfully restored cathedral, a major campaign underway for Camp Artaban, and countless capital projects successfully completed for the re-construction of many of our older buildings across the Lower Mainland.”

“In the last ten years new members have joined the Anglican Church because they have seen that we stand for something, something at the heart of the Gospel. Gifted and talented clergy from all around the world have chosen to come here and join us.”

“There has been a real strengthening of purpose and resolve within the vast majority of congregations that remained. In survey after survey, Anglicans here (as elsewhere in Canada) have told us they are committed to an inclusive church and an inclusive Gospel.”

“Tolerance and mutual respect are high values among mainstream Christians in this country. The conflict has had a refining and purifying effect upon most of us. We might not have chosen this struggle had we known in advance all its effects, but having lived through them we are much more certain now of the Gospel and its meaning. We are more confident in our mission.”

The bishop endorsed a strategic planning process that was approved at the synod (“Plan 2018”), which lays out diocesan and parish priorities for the next ten years for the diocese.

“Let us rely on God and build a new church…a church willing to risk and to change and also, in a deep sense, to remain the same, that is, grounded in the ancient witness of God’s love for all,” He said.

The text of the bishop’s address can be found here.